Tech Industry Urges Judge To Sink Arkansas Social Media Restrictions

The tech industry group NetChoice is asking a federal judge to permanently block an Arkansas law requiring social platforms to verify users' ages and prohibiting minors under 18 from having accounts without parental permission.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks in Fayetteville, Arkansas temporarily enjoined the law last year, ruling that it likely violates the First Amendment.

NetChoice on Friday urged Brooks to finalize that decision, arguing that the measure isn't tailored to a goal of protecting children from online sexual predators.

The law “burdens an unfathomable amount of First Amendment activity -- restricting minors (and adults) from accessing services like Facebook and X even if all they want to do is watch church services or share pictures of their latest travels,” NetChoice writes in a motion arguing that law is unconstitutional.

The group adds that the law makes exceptions from gaming platforms and direct messaging services, even though, according to NetChoice, evidence provided by state officials suggests those services are “more prone to abuse than some of the online services the law covers.”



The Arkansas law, passed in April 2023, applies to social media platforms controlled by companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue, except for YouTube, which was exempted in a last-minute amendment.

The bill also excludes many platforms with less than $100 million in revenue -- including Discord, Gab and Truth Social.

NetChoice notes in its newest papers that other courts have invalidated laws that would have restricted teens' access to entertainment and media. For instance, in 2011 the Supreme Court struck down a California law that would have banned the sale of violent video games to minors without parental consent.

The tech organization argues the Arkansas law is broader than the invalidated California measure that would have restricted only violent video games.

The Arkansas statute “restricts the ability of minors to create accounts and access any content on websites like Facebook and X even if all they want to do is to attend church services, watch the launch of a presidential campaign, or communicate with friends or family,” NetChoice writes.

“If California had restricted access to all video games based on a concern that some video games may be addictive or violent, that would have made the First Amendment violation even more glaring,” the group adds.

Arkansas isn't the only state to attempt to pass laws requiring social media companies to verify users' ages and restrict minors.

Lawmakers in states including Utah, Ohio, Mississippi and Texas have passed similar measures, while New York and California have passed laws that could regulate how social platforms serve content to teens.

NetChoice is challenging those laws in Arkansas, Utah, Ohio, Mississippi and California.

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